I am afraid we do not have the luxury of time. We have to act now because, as Lord Stern has told us, any difficulties which we face today will be as nothing compared to the full effects which global warming will have on the world-wide economy and on the well-being of every man, woman and child on our planet.
And that is the whole point of my May Day initiative; to help you, and others watching this and taking part in this, to make the necessary change in the way you do business.
Indeed, we will only succeed if we strive to work together and in doing so we may find to our surprise that we have removed much that causes conflict, instability and poverty. Whether or not we can achieve all that needs to be done in the time available to us is by no means certain.
One of the priorities must be to stop tropical deforestation, which is estimated to be responsible for about 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Only the power generation sector releases more. These forests are the greatest global public utility, regulating our temperature, cleaning our air and producing our rainfall.
I really don’t think there is a more urgent issue for any of us to be addressing, at work, at home, and indeed in every facet of our lives, than climate change. Business is not only a major contributor to climate change, but can also play a key role in tackling the problems and reducing their impact. So if anyone here feels that they were a spectator this morning, then they were probably in the wrong meeting!
This has been a most encouraging day. Encouraging for me personally to hear so many business leaders respond so positively to the challenge of climate change, and surely encouraging for everyone ‘out there’ who is concerned as 91 per cent of the population are said to be by the threat that climate change poses to our way of life.
I really couldn’t be more delighted that you are all going to see Al Gore’s film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. I saw it several months ago and found myself profoundly affected by it.
You hardly need me to tell you – but I will all the same! – that climate change threatens all of us, and all of our descendants, so it really is an issue requiring concerted action from every sector of society. And it will certainly mean doing things differently.
But I believe it is an essential step for any business that is serious about making Corporate Responsibility more than just a sound bite or an optional extra.